Johannesburg - When a flaming plane came plunging down and crash landed in a park, the residents of Wattville in Benoni sprang into action, trying to save the people inside.
The pilot and his two passengers died.
The colourful light aircraft, which had taken off from the Brakpan Airfield, is said to have experienced technical failure on Wednesday morning while flying over the Ekurhuleni township on its way to a golf resort in Mookgopong (formerly Naboomspruit), Limpopo.
A couple from Austria were being flown by a pilot who lived in the nearby Dalpark suburb.
Puseletso Mohoto was one of the people who tried to rescue the occupants after seeing the plane go down onto the little netball court in the park.
“There were about six of us just standing near the park when we saw it. The plane was already on fire as it came down and hit a street light pole.
“The engine made two blasts as it came down, skidded over the roof of a shack and then hit the ground nose first,” said Mohoto.
He added that when the aircraft hit the ground, the wing hit a tree and and broke off.\
“It stopped and it was on fire so we and the guys from the nearby car wash took buckets of water and tried put out the fire.”
A metro police car that was passing by also stopped and the officer used a fire extinguisher to finish off the flames.
“There were no screams from the people, they were just quiet. We started pulling them out. First we pulled out a man. He took his last breath as we were pulling him out.
“As we pulled out the woman we could see her stomach move up and down but she was very burnt.
“We thought there were only two people till we saw a foot wearing a trainer sticking out of a window. We pulled him out too but he was already dead.”
The woman, who, like her husband, looked in her 60s, died soon after on the scene.
Mohoto said the pilot was a true hero.
“The hero was the pilot, honestly. He did his best to avoid the houses. You can see that he wanted to land in the street but was disturbed by vehicles that were on the road. We’re lucky there were no (school) kids when he landed in the park.”
Ekurhuleni mayor Mondli Gungubele went to the scene of the crash.
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He said: “While we may not really know what happened here, it may seem that the Austrian couple were probably on vacation in the country.
“Listening to the story told by eyewitnesses and looking at the crash site, I cannot help but conclude that this was quite a scary and painful way to lose lives.”
He sent his condolences to the families of the three people who died and added: “It is by God’s grace that more people were neither injured nor killed because the plane crashed in an open space between houses in the middle of Wattville township.”